Behind The Scenes With Sirio Maccioni

Sirio told me, “People need to travel. Learning different languages is very important.”


Let me begin by sharing how my interview with Sirio began:

Sirio: Were you born in New York?
Me: No, I was born in Taipei, Taiwan.
Sirio: That’s why you’re different.
Me: I speak five languages but Italian, unfortunately, isn’t one of them.
Sirio: I speak five language too, but Chinese isn’t one of them.
Me: (laugh) Are all your interviews always this fun?
Sirio: How many boyfriends do you have?
Me: I don’t have any, I’m too busy.
Sirio: In Italy, you need two. In America, you need five.
(A group of us at the corner of the restaurant laugh hysterically)
Sirio then adds a charming disclaimer: I’m joking (with a wink.)

He then orders his staff to bring me coffee, kindly offers a napkin to put on my lap. That day, I was wearing a vintage 70’s short dress that I had bought ten years ago in Taipei. Barring Sandy, I was trying to look as put together as possible for my interview with the legendary restauranteur. But apparently, my legs were distracting him. I laughed even harder, then we began to travel through his philosophy of life and business with our words.

Sirio told me, “People need to travel. Learning different languages is very important, all of my sons speak: English, Italian and French. If you speak the language, you capture a different mentality. Learning different languages makes you live better. You know what people are talking about, it’s about connecting with people. You don’t need to be presumptuous. But every person in today’s world needs to at least speak three different languages.” I couldn’t have agreed more.


Few weeks ago, I flew to New York to attend several events. Kicking off the week was Sirio Ristorante opening at The Pierre in Upper East Side. With 1,000 socialites, foodies and celebrities in attendance, plates of smoked salmon canapés with caviar and saffron risotto were served, while bottles of the top-notch wines and champagnes were provided at the bar. Sirio is Maccioni Group’s latest expansion in New York City. I was fortunate enough to taste its menu prior to November 1st – date of the official opening to the public. I typically like to study, read and smell my food before eating. Every dish arrived with vibrant colors, complimenting scent of garden-fresh ingredients. I’m a firm believer that the soul of Italian cuisine lives in its usage of olive oil. Without devouring into specifics, I was graciously intoxicated by a few simple whiffs.

During my second week in New York, Sandy swept the city away while I scrambled to deal with a list of rescheduled and cancelled meetings. The apartment I was staying at was in evacuation zone, left without power, water and cell service. This was disastrous since technology and internet is the blood of my work and well, my life. Le Cirque kindly opened its doors to me. There I was, sitting at Le Cirque Café almost on a daily basis, turning its corner table (next to a poster of Sirio and Ronald Reagan) into my home office of some sort. I now have its menu memorized and would wholeheartedly recommend every dish. Lobster Risotto, Le Cirque Flounder (might only be available in the Dining Room,) crème brûlée are some of my personal favorites. Stop by the next time you find yourself in Midtown, NYC. Say “hello” to Billy at the bar, he mixes one of the best cocktails in the city.


Finally, I wanted to extend a special “thanks” to the team and staff at Le Cirque. Amid catastrophe, I became a stylish refugee and worked away on my computer instead of running into chaos somewhere in the streets of Manhattan. In my heart, Le Cirque resides beyond a fine-dining restaurant experience. It got me through Sandy. In some ways, it feels like home – a place I will always return to. And I believe this is how Sirio has always intended his restaurants to be.

Check out more of my interview with Sirio.

Book your reservations at Le Cirque, Circo and Sirio Ristorante.

Safe travels,

Wendy's siguature

Wendy Hung


As the founder of Jetset Times, Wendy is an avid traveler and fluent in five languages. When she's not traveling, Wendy calls Paris and Taipei home. Her favorite countries so far from her travels have been: Bhutan, Iran, and St. Bart's because they were all so different!

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